The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) is a foundational legal framework in the United States for regulating telemarketing calls, text messages, and faxes.
Established in 1991, the TCPA sets guidelines for how and when consent for these types of electronic communications is obtained and used, aiming to balance marketers’ desire for outreach with consumers’ rights to privacy.
Consent under the TCPA isn’t just a permission slip; it’s an important law that regulates the relationship between consumers and companies when it comes to telephonic communications.
Whether it’s a simple text message update, a service call, or a promotional pitch, consent is what separates welcome contact from unwanted interruption that violates federal laws.
However, the nuances of consent – how it is granted, how long it holds, and how it can be retracted – can often lead to compliance violations for businesses.
The lingering question remains: How long does TCPA consent last? The TCPA lawyers at Kazerouni Law Group have put together this guide to answer what is the lifespan of TCPA consent, the circumstances under which it can change, and the steps both consumers and businesses should take when consent is revoked.
What is Considered Consent Under the TCPA?
The Definition of Prior Express Consent Under the TCPA
Consent, as outlined by the TCPA, refers to a consumer’s agreement to be contacted by a particular entity through calls or texts.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which enforces the TCPA, defines prior express consent as permission that is given by a consumer before a call or message is delivered.
For non-telemarketing calls, consent can be given orally or in writing, while telemarketing calls require written consent, which can include electronic or digital forms of agreement.
Types of Consent: Oral, Written, and Implied
Consent comes in various forms, and the TCPA recognizes the following types of consent.
- Oral Consent. This is given directly by the consumer, typically in response to a request over the phone or in person.
- Written Consent. This more formal type of consent is documented and may include signatures on paper, electronic forms, checks indicating agreement, or digital acceptance through website forms.
- Implied Consent. In certain situations, a consumer’s actions can imply consent. For instance, providing a contact number in the course of a business transaction can be interpreted as consent to receive calls related to that transaction.
Scope of Consent: Specific to the Type of Call or Text Message
Consent is not a blanket permission. It is specific to the type of communication disclosed when consent is obtained.
For example, if a consumer agrees to receive calls or messages for updates on a service, this does not automatically allow the same entity to send promotional content to the consumer.
The calling or messaging entity must clearly outline and adhere to the scope of consent to remain within legal boundaries.
How Do Businesses Obtain TCPA Consent?
Businesses must tread carefully when obtaining consent to ensure compliance with the TCPA.
The following are key steps to obtain valid consent:
- Providing Clear Information. When asking for consent, it’s important to provide clear and complete information about what the consumer is agreeing to. This includes the identity of the company, the purpose of the calls or messages, and the nature of the content (e.g., marketing, reminders, service updates).
- Record Keeping. Consent should be documented and securely stored so that there is a verifiable trail confirming that the consumer agreed to be contacted. By contrast, consumers also need to keep records of consent given to a business in case of a dispute.
- Disclosure of Rights. It’s important to inform consumers that they are not required to provide consent as a condition of purchasing any goods or services and that they have the right to revoke consent at any time.
- Using Compliant Forms. Written consent forms must be compliant with the TCPA’s requirements, including being clear and unambiguous about the consumer’s consent to receive telemarketing messages.
How Long Does TCPA Consent Last?
Consent under the TCPA is not indefinite. Businesses that rely on consumer consent for marketing must be aware of when they can reasonably consider this permission to remain active and when it may have lapsed.
The General Rule on the Duration of TCPA Consent
The TCPA does not set a fixed expiration date for consent. Consent generally lasts until the consumer explicitly revokes it.
This means that as long as the consumer does not withdraw their permission, the business may continue to contact them according to the original terms agreed upon when consent was provided. Any significant change in the relationship or context may affect the validity of existing consent.
Case Law Examples on the Persistence of Consent
Judicial interpretations of the TCPA have helped shape the understanding of consent duration.
Let’s examine a few notable cases:
- Gager v. Dell Financial Services, LLC. This case confirmed that consumers have the right to revoke their prior express consent to receive automated calls.
- Osorio v. State Farm Bank, F.S.B. The court ruled that text messages fall under the TCPA’s scope, and consent must be obtained for such communications. It also touched upon the issue of consent through intermediaries.
- Satterfield v. Simon & Schuster, Inc. In this landmark decision, the court interpreted consent to include text messages when a consumer provides their phone number in connection with a transaction.
Consent is dynamic, and businesses that ignore how a consumer maintains or validates their consent can be sued for violating the TCPA.
What Can Affect the Length of Consent?
Change in Subscriber Status
A change in the subscriber’s status may influence the length of TCPA consent. For example, if a consumer ceases to patronize a service, the underlying consent to contact them typically ends with the termination of the service contract.
This implies that businesses must be diligent in monitoring their contact lists to reflect current subscriber statuses.
Porting a Phone Number
Porting refers to the process of retaining one’s phone number while switching service providers or changing numbers within the same provider.
Although consent is attached to the number and the individual, businesses should confirm consent validity post-porting to ensure compliance, as the context in which the customer consented may have shifted.
Reassigned Numbers and the Risk to Businesses
Numbers that are reassigned to new subscribers pose a significant risk to companies that want to contact you.
The TCPA requires telemarketers and other businesses to obtain consent from the current subscriber or customary user of the number, not just the intended recipient of the call or message.
If a number has been reassigned, any previous consent does not apply to the new subscriber, and businesses may be at risk for violating the TCPA.
Subscriber’s Relationship with the Provider and Its Impact on Consent Longevity
A subscriber’s relationship with their service provider may also influence consent.
For instance, when a wireless provider reaches out to their current subscribers, certain exemptions allow for contact under the TCPA as long as it adheres to specified conditions like not containing marketing content.
This relationship-based consent is dependent on the subscriber maintaining their status with the provider.
How Can a Consumer Revoke Consent?
Consumers have the right to revoke their consent in any reasonable manner. They may use various methods such as responding to text messages with “STOP,” verbal requests during a call, or any other clear affirmative action that indicates they no longer wish to be contacted.
Business Obligations Upon Revocation of Consent
Once a consumer revokes consent, a business must promptly record and honor the request.
The TCPA mandates that the business acknowledge and act upon this revocation within a reasonable timeframe, generally within 24 hours of receiving the request.
The Immediate Effect of Consent Revocation and Related FCC Rulings
The FCC has provided guidance on the immediacy with which businesses must respect consent revocation.
The requirement is that revocation should take effect immediately, respecting consumers’ choices without delay.
The Significance of a Reasonable Method for Revocation and Its Effect on the Timeline
The definition of a “reasonable method” for revocation is broad to protect consumers. This approach favors consumer rights and emphasizes the need for businesses to have flexible and consumer-friendly policies to process the revocation of consent.
By not restricting the revocation method, the TCPA ensures that consumers can expect their choices to be respected promptly and without undue burden.
How a TCPA Attorney Can Assist with a TCPA Violation
When it comes to navigating the complexities of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, individuals who believe their rights under the TCPA have been violated may find it beneficial to consult an attorney.
A lawyer with experience in TCPA cases can offer several crucial services to those affected by unwanted robocalls, messages, or violations of the Do Not Call Registry.
Assessing the Case
A TCPA attorney can first evaluate the specifics of your case to determine whether a violation has occurred.
This assessment includes reviewing communication records, consent given, and any instances of consent revocation. They will also look into whether the communication falls under one of the exemptions provided by the TCPA.
To proceed with a claim, evidence of a TCPA violation will be needed. A consumer protection attorney will assist you in compiling a detailed record of unsolicited calls or messages, violations of the Do Not Call Registry, and documenting each occurrence and its date and time.
This evidence can include phone records, caller ID information, voicemails, and text message logs.
Understanding Consumer Rights
An experienced TCPA attorney can clarify an individual’s rights under the TCPA, including the right to revoke consent and the regulations businesses must follow to lawfully make telemarketing calls or send automated texts.
A consumer protection lawyer can explain the legal standards required for establishing a violation and the implications of recent case law and regulatory updates.
In some cases, an attorney may negotiate with the offending party to settle. They can communicate on your behalf to resolve the issue outside of court, potentially saving time and resources for everyone involved.
If the violating business does not offer a fair settlement, or if the individual wishes to pursue legal action with a lawsuit, a TCPA attorney can provide representation in court. They will manage all aspects of the litigation process, from filing the complaint to presenting the case before a judge or jury.
Providing Regulatory Insight
A lawyer with TCPA experience can also offer insight into the regulatory landscape that governs telemarketing and automated communications and answer all of your questions.
For those affected by TCPA breaches, attorneys can seek various remedies including injunctions to stop further violations, monetary damages for each violation, and statutory penalties that may apply.
The TCPA allows individuals to recover financial compensation, including $500 for each violation or up to $1,500 for each willful or knowing violation.
Advising on a TCPA Violation Strategy
An attorney can advise individuals on the best course of action, considering the likelihood of a successful outcome, the potential recovery, and the cost of legal action.
This strategic planning is essential for individuals to make informed decisions about how to proceed with their claims.
Enhancing Consumer Protection
Finally, by holding violators accountable, TCPA attorneys play a vital role in consumer protection. Their work helps to deter companies from engaging in non-compliant telemarketing practices and promotes respect for consumer privacy and choice.
By seeking the help of a knowledgeable attorney, consumers can protect their rights and hold violators of the TCPA accountable for their actions.
Contact a TCPA Attorney for Guidance
Over $1 Billion in Awards and Settlements for Consumers Nationwide
The TCPA was designed to put a stop to invasive telecommunications practices and safeguard consumer privacy.
Despite the apparent simplicity of the legislation and its associated fines, states and the federal government continue to make amendments and changes to the TCPA, and businesses continue to violate the law.
Without professional legal assistance, most people cannot decipher the violations of these ever-changing regulations.
We have extensive knowledge and experience in TCPA-related violations and have successfully helped people recover over $1 billion from violators.
A free consultation with a TCPA attorney from Kazerouni Law Group can lay the groundwork for your legal response.
For tailored advice and a robust defense of your consumer rights, consider reaching out to a TCPA lawyer for a free consultation.
We offer no-cost evaluations to help you understand your position and determine an effective course of action.
You are more than just a series of digits being dialed. Assert your rights with the support of a TCPA attorney.